While growing up, mum always told me, every time you leave the house, make sure you look like a proper young lady – clean, tidy and respectable; because you never know who you will run into during the day.
I always abide by this principle, but only to the extent I will be out for the entire day, or at least, out to meet people I know.
Oh how wrong was I?
So let me paint a picture for you. It was Monday morning, I have a picnic later and I promised to bring some salads and drinks. Also, I need to buy shampoo and conditioner. As I was leaving the house, I looked at myself in the mirror, and thought hmmm …
– my hair is a mess and begs to be washed, so I decided to wear it in plaits.
– I don’t have any makeup on, and I look ghostly pale + serious dark under-eye circles from watching re-runs of Doctor Who season 2-4 late last night,
– I’m wearing a Winnie the Pooh T-shirt + old white washed comfy jeans = I look like a bogan
– I can feel a zit creeping up on my forehead, damn, must had too much Anzac cookies and lamingtons for the past few days.
I seriously considered a change of clothes or at least, wash my face and put some tinted moisturizer on, but I thought hmmm …
– it’s best to come back and shower properly and wash my hair altogether,
– it’s only a 15-minute trip, 20 minutes MAX
– it was early morning around 8:30am,
– no one I know live around the neighbourhood (or would be up at this hour doing grocery shopping),
– really, what are the chances of running into someone of importance?
I weighed the pros and cons in my head and thought, meh – nothing can go wrong.
Obviously I thought WRONG.
It was approximately 7 minutes into the originally planned 15-minute trip, somewhere between the personal hygiene and the confectionery isle in Woolies, I was choosing what brand of shampoo I should buy. At the corner of my eyes I saw a guy peeking at me, moving a little closer towards me. Without acting abruptly, I casually picked up two bottles of shampoo to pretend to read the labels and compare them, at the same time, turning a bit to see what he was looking at.
Was he trying to recommend a brand of shampoo to me ? Was he waiting for me to move over as he was also buying shampoo? But I started to worry that he was a homicidal maniac who stalk young girls in personal hygiene isles, and I mentally kicked myself for plaiting my hair today, possibly inciting schoolgirl fantasies in psychotics mind.
I sneaked another peek. Then I heard a soft and unsure voice calling my name. I thought – oh sh*t!
At that moment, I seriously considered whether I could pretend I didn’t hear anyone calling me, turn around gracefully and walk (or run) out of the shop. Unfortunately, during the time I was mentally weighing my exit strategies, the voice called again, this time with more certainty.
It has reached a critical stage, where we both knew that I knew that he was calling me so I had to looked up.
And I looked up.
First thing I thought, who is this guy? Second thing I thought, he looks familiar, and he’s actually kind of cute.
Then it suddenly hits me, oh dear, it was K, a boy whom I had a major crush on back in junior high. He went to my brother school, and I knew him because a friend of mine dated a friend of his. Then the couple broke up and I haven’t seen him … for almost 8 years.
I was genuinely very pleased to see him, had only our fateful encounter be in a more romantic scenario. At least, not looking the way I looked this morning.
I was surprised how he managed to recognise me after so many years.
The self-absorbed side of me thought, it must be because I am as youthful and cute as I was 8 years ago. Yet, the more sensible side of me concluded it must be because I had my hair in plaits, wearing a Winnie the Pooh t-shirt and had a zit on my face, all evidences show a pathetic inability to let go of my lost youth, immaturity and a desperate desire to look 15 again.
We moved away from the personal hygiene section which was getting populated, and moved to the oral health section, briefly caught up over an ‘oh my gosh, how are you and what have you been up to for the last 8 years’ conversation. We left with eachother’s contact details and promised to have coffee another day to properly catch up, now that he has moved into the neighbourhood.
I was walking back through the park, towards home, and saw two young girls on their bicycles riding pass me. The older girl stopped and waited for the younger girl, her little sister I presumed, to catch up. Then I heard them giggling in the far distance, I had a warm and fuzzy feeling. My mind started to wander and it was so lovely in the sunshine that I gave up hurrying home and strolled leisurely and watched families walking their dogs. I thought about my plaited hair, which made me feel excessively girly, as if I am ready to skip through flower-filled meadows.
I came home and realised, oops, I forgot to buy salads and drinks! But, first thing, I need to wash my hair and never wear an immature cartoon character top again!